Tag Archives: Saint Martin-de-Ré

A to Z of Postcards – I is for Île de Ré in France

As a couple of highly amateurish and very part time cyclists, who wouldn’t know Lance Armstrong if he hurtled straight into us we were going to go for a bike ride.

We chose Île de Ré because we don’t do hills, we are used to the subtle undulations of the Lincolnshire landscape. So for us the prospect of Île de Ré, with its network of dedicated cycle paths and flat topography seemed practically perfect,

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Postcard From Île de Ré, France

Ile de Re Postcard

“The French cannot get the hang of queueing.  They try and try but it is beyond them… you see orderly lines waiting at bus stops, but as soon as the bus arrives the line disintegrates into something like a fire drill at a lunatic asylum….” – Bill Bryson – ‘Neither here Nor there’

Today we planned to take a bus ride to Saint Martin-de-Ré on the Ile de Ré that was about an hour’s journey away, so, knowing that the French are the World’s worst queue jumpers we arrived at the bus station in good time to find the departure point and stand with sharpened elbows at the front of the line.  There was no line of course, just a disorderly crowd of people that was steadily getting larger and more excitable as we waited for the bus.

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La Rochelle, Cycling on the Ile de Ré

Saint Martin-de-Ré on the Ile de Ré

“It has always been a marvel to me — that French language; it has always been a puzzle to me. How beautiful that language is! How expressive it seems to be! How full of grace it is!  And, oh, I am always deceived – I always think I am going to understand it.”
Mark Twain, a Biography

Our plan was quite simple – to hire bicycles and cycle along the coastal paths for as far as we could, or for at least as far as our bottoms would let us, so we made straight away for a bike hire shop opposite the bus stop in Saint Martin-de-Ré.  This was a real challenge because the bicycle-hiring clerk could speak not a word of English and I was a bit stumped as soon as I got beyond ‘Bonjour Monsieur, deux bicyclettes sil vous plait!’ which I had been practising to myself for about half an hour and was practically word perfect.

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La Rochelle, Bus Ride to Ile de Ré

Bridge La Rochelle to Ile de Rey

When we woke the next morning there was a cheerful blue sky and we decided to walk out from the hotel and find a traditional brasserie for a continental breakfast.  There was a chill in the air when we left but we found what we were looking for, took a table and ordered our food.

Unfortunately it turned out to be most disappointing with just a single bread stick and a croissant and a most unsatisfactory pot of lukewarm tea and at the table this morning we were accompanied by another dog, this time one that insisted on sneezing everywhere.  Bloody charming, absolutely bloody charming!  Some of the hotel reviews had recommended this option in preference to the hotel buffet breakfast and I deeply regretted having read them and even more having taken any notice of them.

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